Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Warrior by Kinley MacGregor

Lochlan MacAllister is head of his clan. Because he was raised to do this, he has been trained to be hard, cold and ruthless in service of his clan and his family. But when he learns his thought-killed brother, Kieran, may still be alive, he wastes no time in going out in search of his brother.

On the way, he encounters a woman he knows, Caterina. Cat is a shrew, and, in Lochlan's eyes, more interested in pleasure and playing than actual working or following the rules. But when he sees her being kidnapped by two knights who come very close to abusing her, he can do nothing else but try to save her. He is taken aback to find out that Caterina is the daughter of King Phillip of France. The Knights who "abducted" her are actually her bodyguards, who are being paid to bring her back to her father.

Cat knows her father wants to marry her off for Dynastic reasons, and strongly objects to marrying someone she doesn't love. Lochlan attempts to return her to her bodyguards, only to once again see them abusing her. Bodyguards or not, he cannot forgive them hurting her, and steals her back from them again. She wants him to take her to her Uncle, who will keep her safe, and he agrees to do so.... but only if he can take her to the South of France to search for his brother on the way. She agrees.

During the journey, they meet some old friends of hers, who have fallen on hard times. Bracken was banished from England, and his brother and sister have gone with him. With no food and little money, they have been forced to become bandits, but Lochlan agrees to take Bracken and his kin into his service in Scotland. Caterina cannot help but see how noble Lochlan is, while he finds that he is attracted to her when he realizes her shrewishness is partly from fear, and partly from wanting to have a life free of the control of her father and dynastic concerns. She helps him to loosen up and he helps her to shoulder responsibility. Naturally (because this is a romance), they fall in love with each other.

But her father is not the only man wanting to control Catarina, and Lochlan must save her from her own relatives and the nobles who would like her (and her dowry) for themselves. As they seek Lochlan's brother Kieran and Catarina's safety, both will find themselves reassessing their opinions of each other and learning to see the merits in each other's approach. But when her father catches up to them at last, will their love be able to see them through?

Answer: This is a romance novel. Shyeah, right.

Kinley MacGregor is the pen name of Sherrilyn Kenyon, and is where she writes her non-supernatural romances. Anybody unable to resist the Pringles of her Dark-Hunter novels and related series will find much to like her, albeit without the supernatural trappings. We still have the same strong heroes, feisty heroines and complications out the wazoo, but also the same strong storytelling and engaging and realistic characters. For a romance novel it was very satifying, though it may not be counted in the "100 greatest of all time", it's very respectable top middle of the road.

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